My husband has been experimenting in the kitchen lately, and I was thinking of buying him a deep fryer for his birthday. He's Indian, so he is mostly interested in preparing fried Indian specialties. However, I've been reading about various electric deep fryers and none seem to get great marks. Others have said that using a simple cast iron pot with a thermometer is best. I'm not sure what to do anymore. I want a gift that is fun for hubby but also one that will not become part of the kitchen graveyard either.
Any thoughts on the best equipment for deep frying. Versatility would be nice, but it is not absolutely needed.
I use a wok in which I make FF. It is a more efficient use of oil, and heats up sooner. I use a remote thermometer and hold it close to the bottom, and when the temp reaches 350, I slide in frozen FF and immediately cover the wok with a screen. The results are fast and good.
If using a pot or wok over an open flame, you can *never* leave the room---the risk of fire is too great. Actually, still high if you are in the room, so have an extinguisher and a fire blanket handy. You are right, most consumer level deep fryers stink. Fry Baby and Fry Daddy work OK, are cheap, but no temperature control and not insulated. For a lot more money, a commercial countertop fryer might be the way to go.
All of the >$100 fryers you see in stores are junk that aren't built to perform or last. They work "ok" and are intended for people who intend to cook with them infrequently. Sure, some folks get by with them and I'm sure love them...but they aren't for me.
Personally, I would spend $200-$350 and get a fryer that performs better, holds more oil, and is built a bit better.
With that said, we currently use a dutch oven on an induction range. LoL
Good luck with your decision.
I have a Di Longhi fryer. It has a lid with 2 filters so your home does not get that odor from frying. The fry basket rotates and it is at an angle so the food is moved in and out. The only thing I find to be a PITA is clean up. It is better than most and does have a tube at the bottom so you don't have to lift and pour the oil out. That is a big convenience.
Lodge makes a big cast iron Dutch oven, with basket included, especially for deep frying. It's inexpensive, stable, high walled and, of course, doubles as a Dutch oven.
Then get a Thermapen or other accurate quick reading thermometer to monitor the oil temp and help keep it at 375F. (None of the home fryers I've tried (2) could *ever* recoup 375F once the product was put in--one couldn't get to 375 before the product was put it.)
Also heed Mwhitemore's dictum: Never leave the room when deep frying. I would add: Beforehand, setup an uncluttered work space and a stable burner for the pot.